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‘Urgent action’ needed to stop mums being forced out of work, say MPs

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

MPs have demanded “urgent action” to protect expectant and new mothers in the workplace.

The Women and Equalities Committee has called on the government to publish “a detailed plan” within the next two years or “risk a further rise in pregnant women being forced out of their work”.

Research carried out by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) revealed that pregnant women and mothers now face more discrimination at work than they did a decade ago.

Some 11% of women reported being either dismissed, made compulsorily redundant when others in their workplace were not, or treated so poorly they felt they had to leave their job.

“The arrival of a new baby puts family finances under extreme pressure yet, despite this, thousands of expectant and new mothers have no choice but to leave their work because of concerns about the safety of their child or pregnancy discrimination. Shockingly this figure has almost doubled in the last decade, now standing at 54,000,” said Committee chair Maria Miller.

Among its recommendations, the Committee is urging the government to change the law to give new and expectant mothers additional protection from redundancy. It recommends implementation of a system similar to the one in Germany under which such women can be made redundant only in specified circumstances.

It also recommends that paid time off for antenatal appointments is extended to all workers after a short qualifying period and that the Government urgently review the pregnancy and maternity-related rights available to casual, agency and zero-hours workers.